Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PA Ed Policy Roundup July 20: Your taxes up? “since 2009 the district’s PSERs expenditures have risen from $4.5 million to $28 million”

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Keystone State Education Coalition
PA Ed Policy Roundup July 20, 2016:
Your taxes up? “since 2009 the district’s PSERs expenditures have risen from $4.5 million to $28 million”

Blogger commentary….

Son of a billionaire Donald Trump Jr. who attended $54K/year private school in Pottstown with average class size of 12 was quoted last evening at RNC as saying “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet department stores run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers…” 

I wonder if he has ever set foot inside a public school where 90% of our students are educated and over 50% are living in poverty.

Fix the deficit or else: Credit agency warns of Pa. debt rating downgrade
Penn Live By Wallace McKelvey | Email the author | Follow on Twitter on July 19, 2016 at 11:48 AM, updated July 19, 2016 at 12:26 PM
Pennsylvania may have passed a budget last week, but the danger of a credit rating downgrade — and the financial havoc it would cause — still remains.  S&P Global Rating announced Tuesday that it removed the state from its CreditWatch list, a precursor to a credit downgrade. The good news, however, was undercut with a warning about the state's looming structural deficit and near-term shortfalls.  In particular, the credit rating agency reported that it believes the state's newly signed $31.5 billion budget is "structurally imbalanced" and that many of its "revenue assumptions could prove optimistic."

“Harrisburg is not out of the woods yet: "Failure to address the balance during
periods of revenue growth adds to the challenge of addressing unexpected
revenue shortfalls," she concluded. S&P will cut Pennsylvania's credit rating if the deficit, borrowing, or the already-large pension deficit increases significantly over the next two years.”
S&P: 'Imbalanced' Pa. rich enough to afford higher taxes
Inquirer by Joseph N. DiStefano, Staff Writer Updated: JULY 19, 2016 — 5:14 PM EDT
S&P Global Ratings has taken Pennsylvania off "CreditWatch," its list of likely credit-rating downgrades, after Gov. Wolf signed this year's budget "in a relatively timely manner," compared to the state's usual long delays, writes S&P analyst Carol Spain in a report to clients.  Plus, the state is still rich enough to afford tax increases to pay for popular spending programs, which legislators have been unwilling to cut, she added.  (Who cares what S&P thinks? The people, for example Wall Street investors, who lend Pennsylvania money: Borrowers with lower credit ratings, like New Jersey and Pa., have to pay higher interest to get bondholders to finance their debt, compared to higher-rated states like AAA-rated Delaware and Maryland. The premium for Pa. is about half a percentage point; N.J. is close to 1 percent. Since Pennsylvania is paying interest on billions in bonds, that adds up to millions a year. If the bond rating gets cut again, taxpayers will have to pay higher interest.)  The less-bad listing "follows the passage of a revenue package" and spending plan," Spain wrote. "However, we have assigned a negative outlook because we view the fiscal 2017 budget as structurally imbalanced and believe that many of the revenue assumptions could prove optimistic.

Report disputes district fund balances as 'hoarding a pot of gold'
Intelligencer By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2016 5:15 pm
Perhaps the billions of dollars managed by school districts in various fund balances is not excessive after all.  A new report by the Center on Regional Politics at Temple University differentiates between "committed" and "unassigned" fund balances, and cites a host of reasons districts need money in reserve.  "Fund balances have allowed some districts to maintain services or minimize service cuts or tax increases during the economic downturn when real estate and earned income tax revenues declined," writes David W. Davare, a researcher with the Pennsylvania Economy League.  In the study, "Explaining School Fund Balances: Are PA Schools, with $4.7 Billion in Reserve Fund, Really Flush?," Davare said "just as an individual or family should maintain a savings account for unforeseen expenses or emergencies, school districts should have funds in reserve to pay for emergency repairs or cover unexpected interruptions in revenues — such as a layoff at a major factory which suddenly affects tax collections."

“There is at least one other sliver of good news for overtaxed residents, in particular those in the struggling school districts of eastern Delaware County. The move this spring by the Legislature to make permanent a new education funding formula developed by a bipartisan legislative panel will help immensely. It will take in several factors that hinder local district’s ability to raise money, in particular an eroding tax base. It also will factor in a number of other issues, such as the number of special education students, those facing language challenges, and of course the elephant in the room, the problem with charter schools sucking away funds meant for public schools.
This year’s budget also will deliver an infusion of new money. Gov. Tom Wolf was successful in getting an additional $200 million in education funding, less than what he wanted, but still direly needed. In most cases, that money was already factored into this year’s budgets by optimistic school board members.
Now the ball really will fall into the Legislature’s hands. With the funding formula now in place, it will remain largely toothless unless it is properly funded.
It’s like buying a Maserati and then using tainted gas, causing the engine to sputter.”
Editorial: Relief may be in sight for Delco taxpayers
POSTED: 07/19/16, 9:19 PM EDT | UPDATED: 4 HRS AGO
It is the siren song of late spring and early summer.  Or, if you will, the plaintive wail of the Delco home owner.  Cha-ching!  It’s the sound of your taxes going up.  Again.
Unless you happen to live in the Upper Darby or Marple Newtown school districts, get out your wallets. Your property tax bill is going up on more time. The 12 other public school districts in the county will be asking home owners to pay more. Chester Upland did not return several phone calls seeking the information.  The increases range from 1 percent in Chichester to 3.4 percent in Wallingford-Swarthmore and 3.62 percent in Radnor.  It’s even worse in Interboro. Facing a serious deficit, the school board there swallowed hard and decided not only to increase taxes but also slash about 20 jobs.  In Upper Darby, school board members are offering what amounts to a one-year pass for homeowners. Instead of increasing taxes, they are instead tapping their fund balance to stem the tide of a hefty deficit.  They’re not the only ones. Those balances are being raided across the county, with Upper Darby leading the pack, utilizing a whopping $6.5 million dollar helping from this account to fend off the rising red ink in the district.  Rose Tree Media is dipping into its account to the tune of more than $5 million; nearly $2.5 million in William Penn; and $2 million in Chichester.  Many board members and financial experts are not big fans of expending these funds, saying they leave the districts in a very vulnerable position and could even affect the schools’ bond ratings.

“In addition, the budget includes $200,000 appropriated from the district’s PSERS reserve fund to ease the impact of the district’s contribution to the retirement fund, and a 2.2 percent increase in the real estate tax rate, equating to a three mill increase.  According to Rodgers, since 2009 the district’s PSERs expenditures have risen from $4.5 million to $28 million, or $23.5 million. Half of that cost – or about $12 million in new dollars - is the responsibility of the district to cover.  What’s interesting, said Rodgers, is that during that same time period while the PSERs rate rose by $23.5 million, the district’s total expenditure budget during that same time period increased $21 million, from $174 million in 2009 to $195.2 million.  “We were able to balance all the other categories and all the different categories that go into providing a quality education while still meeting the needs of that huge PSERs contribution and expenditure that we have no control over,” said Rodgers.”
Pennsbury restores librarian positions; approves $195.2M final budget with 2.2 percent tax increase
Yardley News By Jeff Werner Published: Monday, July 18, 2016
PENNSBURY >> The school board on June 9 voted unanimously to pass a final $195.2 million budget for 2016-17 that will boost the real estate tax rate by 2.2 percent, or an average of $109, while restoring funding for three librarian positions originally cut from the spending plan.  The decision drew applause from a small contingent of teachers who stayed for the entire four hour business meeting. Earlier the room had been packed with members of the Pennsbury Education Association, all there to urge the board not to reject the fact finder’s report.  After listening to several teachers plead for the restoration of the positions during public comment, board member Joshua Waldorf made a motion to reinstate the positions prior to voting for the final budget by using the savings from lower than projected insurance premiums to fund the positions, which will cost about $210,000 next year.

Letters: A win for schools
Letter by Pedro A. Rivera, PA Secretary of Education Chambersburg Public Opinion 3:35 p.m. EDT July 18, 2016
The 2016-17 budget provides a significant step forward for Pennsylvania schools. It will help promote student success, and improve access to a high-quality education - regardless of a child’s ZIP code. Working with our partners in the legislature, we are moving Pennsylvania forward by investing in our children.  Over the past two years, Governor Wolf has championed our schools and fought for increased education funding. As a result of his advocacy, this budget provides an additional $200 million in basic education funding, as well as a $30 million increase for early childhood education to preserve the number of slots in proven early learning programs like Pre-K Counts and Head Start, a $20 million increase for special education, and a more than $10 million increase for early intervention. This funding will help restore even more districts from the deep funding reductions of 2011.  The new education funding included in this budget will be distributed using the bipartisan fair funding formula, which was signed into law in early June. Prior to the passing of this bill, Pennsylvania was one of only three states that did not have such a formula in place, contributing to massive inequities in schools and hitting the most vulnerable students the hardest.

“Gulen's influence in Pennsylvania extends further than the village of Saylorsburg, though. Internationally, Gulen-affiliated schools make up the largest charter school network in the world. There are at least 120 Gulen schools in 25 states in the U.S.  In the U.S., the schools tend to be secular, with a focus on the STEM fields rather than any particular religious doctrine. There are at least three Gulen-affiliated charter schools in Pennsylvania, one in State College and two in the Pittsburgh area.  Truebright Science Charter School in North Philadelphia, a Gulen-affiliated charter, was closed in 2015. Not for political or religious reasons, but because of poor academic performance.  Academic performance, along with financial mismanagement and misuse of work visas, has been an issue in the past. In 2011, there was a federal investigation alleging that the schools used taxpayer money to fund the religious order, bring Gulenites over from Turkey and pay immigration fees for members of the organization. 
Gulen schools are among the largest employers of people with HB1 visas, intended to bring high-value science and technology workers to the U.S., in the reported that in 2009, Gulen schools brought 684 workers over on HB1 visas, compared to Google's 440.”
Why a coup attempt in Turkey brings protests to the Poconos
Keystone Crossroads BY ELEANOR KLIBANOFF, WPSU JULY 19, 2016
Over the weekend, Turkish president Recep Tayip Erdogan gave a televised speech about the country's failed military coup.  "I have a message for Pennsylvania," he said. "You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country."  Don't worry. Erdogan isn't interested in having all 13 million Pennsylvanians show up in Turkey. He was speaking directly to one specific resident: Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish exile living in Saylorsburg, Pa.  Erdogan blamed Gulen, and his eponymous movement, for the coup, while Gulen denies those charges. Erdogan has asked the Obama administration to extradite Gulen, who has resided in the United States since 1999. The U.S. has not made a decision on that matter.

Refugees sue School District of Lancaster; 6 students say they were denied admission or diverted to an 'educational dead end'
Lancaster Online KARA NEWHOUSE | Staff WriterJuly 19, 2016
Some of the neediest students are being turned away at the doors of Lancaster city schools, a group claims in their lawsuit against the school district.  Six refugees filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court Tuesday, saying that the School District of Lancaster has denied them the "meaningful and equal education" they are due under federal and state laws.  The students and their parents are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the Education Law Center and Pepper Hamilton LLP, all of Philadelphia.  Their complaint says that the school district regularly refuses to admit older immigrant and refugee students, or assigns them to an "inferior" alternative school with insufficient support for overcoming language barriers.  A school district spokeswoman said that the complaint is "without merit."  The refugee students are asking the court to order the district to admit them and all other similar students to McCaskey High School for the school year that begins Aug. 30.

Federal lawsuit filed against Lancaster district for its treatment of older immigrant students
They are denied enrollment or placed in an alternative school, the complaint says, rather than getting help with English.
The notebook by Dale Mezzacappa July 19, 2016 — 5:57pm
A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that the School District of Lancaster, Pa., puts older immigrant students with limited English skills in a privately operated alternative school rather than in its regular high school -- or refuses to enroll them at all.  The complaint says that the district fails to provide these students with bilingual classes or with instruction in English as a second language, as mandated by federal and state law. State law requires that every person from age 6 to 21 has the right to a "free public education" in the child's district of residence.  The plaintiffs include six refugees, from Somalia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burma. The suit was filed by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Education Law Center (ELC), and pro bono counsel from Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Philadelphia's new contingent of community schools, by the numbers
There is no such thing as a typical community school.
Different versions of that sentiment have been repeated ad infinitum by members of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration as they’ve readied the public for the new community schools initiative. Now that the city has officially named its first nine community schools, those careful disclaimers have been borne out.  The group of schools named Monday represent a wide range of student subgroups, academic track records, and neighborhoods. No two schools better represent that range than Edward Gideon north of Brewerytown and Southwark near East Passyunk Avenue.  Gideon sits in a census tract where more than half of the residents live below the federal poverty line, where the median family income is just a hair over $12,000 a year, and where two-thirds of residents over 16 are either not in the labor force or unemployed.

Wraparound services still worth it even after accounting for all costs
Brookings by Joan Wasser Gish , Eric Dearing and Mary Walsh | July 15, 2016 7:00am
There is a new consensus about the importance of addressing the out-of-school factors that interfere with students’ success in school. Though achievement gaps for some groups have narrowed, the gap between high- and low-income students has grown by about 40 percent in a generation, and now a majorityof all children in America’s public schools are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Interest in tackling barriers to low-income students’ success reverberates through the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is palpable in communities across the country. Educators are seeking ways to effectively integrate education with social services, youth development, health and mental health resources so that all children are ready to learn.  Emerging evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of “integrated supports,” school-based approaches that advance students’ academic progress “by developing or securing and coordinating supports that target academic and non-academic barriers to achievement.” Organizations like City ConnectsCommunities In SchoolsCommunity Schools, and Say Yes to Education offer varying approaches to comprehensively address students’ needs tied to hunger, homelessness, traumatic experiences, or lack of access to medical care or enrichment opportunities.

“The largest share - about two dozen jobs - are related to the creation of nine community schools, which will become hubs for social services for the surrounding neighborhoods. Kenney announced the locations of those schools at a news conference Monday.  Each will have a community school coordinator. Deana Gamble, spokeswoman for the mayor's Office of Education, said the city is urging those interested to apply, in particular if they have firsthand experience in the community.”
City looking to hire with soda-tax funds
Inquirer by Tricia L. Nadolny, Staff Writer Updated: JULY 20, 2016 — 1:08 AM EDT
The city of Philadelphia is on a hiring spree, sparked by the recently passed sweetened-beverage tax.  More than two dozen jobs have been posted since last week, and city officials say more are on the way. They range from data analysts and school-health specialists to a workforce manager for a prekindergarten expansion, all listed as the city prepares to launch both the tax and the programs it will fund.  "These are important early steps that we need to take to make sure the programs are implemented effectively," city finance director Rob Dubow said.  The city has budgeted about $2.6 million in the first year for the new hires. City spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said the salaries will be paid with revenue from the sweetened-beverage tax and, before the tax is implemented, from the general fund.  Mayor Kenney signed the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet drinks, the first of its kind passed by a major U.S. city, into law in mid-June. The city plans to start collecting the tax Jan. 1.

Educators need to talk with students about recent police shootings
The notebook Commentary by Sharif El-Mekki July 19, 2016 — 12:14pm
Schools should not get in the way of educating our youth, as a quote often attributed to Mark Twain says. When schools or districts choose to ignore oppression because it is not convenient or comfortable to discuss, another form of injustice is established.  The recent shooting deaths by police officers of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile give educators an opportunity to talk with students about these incidents, but also about their feelings about safety.    Students know when they're not safe.  Black students, especially males, are not safe in our society – too often at the very hands of those who are sworn to protect them. Even if some educators may ignore it, our students know when they are not safe. If you have not realized that over the course of your career, long or short, you undoubtedly should know it by now.

EDITORIAL: York Academy invests in education and the city
York Dispatch Editorial 8:28 p.m. EDT July 19, 2016
Last week, the Dispatch reported that York Academy Regional Charter School had purchased the property that used to house Pensupreme Dairy on North Beaver Street and North George Street along Hamilton Avenue.  The purchase price of $695,000, according to Michael Lowe, the supervisor of instructional development at York Academy, includes the former dairy, its smokestack and 28,100 square feet, which the Academy plans to turn into a high school to educate 75 students per grade.  This is important not only because the academy will turn a long-abandoned building into an active and thriving part of the city, but also because 80 percent of students in the school’s lower grades are from York City, with the other 20 percent coming from Central York and York Suburban school districts.

Protesters demand Spring Grove official resign
Evening Sun by Lillian Reed, lreed@eveningsun.com9:59 p.m. EDT July 18, 2016
A local pastor said the official harrassed him for posting a sign that wished Muslim neighbors a 'blessed Ramadan'
Protests persisted this week over a Spring Grove Area School Board member's disparaging comments about the religion of Islam.  Matthew Jansen drew the ire of six protesters at Monday's board meeting, with at least one pledging to come to every meeting until the official steps down.  The protesters gripped poster boards on the sidewalk outside of the district building Monday evening. Some signs bore quotes from the Roman poet Virgil and Robert Kennedy. Others were decorated with the Coexist slogan, which incorporates symbols from a myriad of world religions into its moniker.  One simply read "Spring Grove against bigotry and hate."  Jansen, who is an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention, left a message on the Rev. Christopher Rodkey's voicemail in June that he was shocked to see a sign wishing Muslim neighbors "a blessed Ramadan" in front of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown.  In the message, he called Islam "godless" and called the sign "despicable."  Jansen, who is currently attending the convention in Ohio, was not present at the meeting to respond to protesters call for his resignation.

Fordham Institute: Voucher Students Fare Worse than Peers in Public Schools
Diane Ravtich’s Blog By dianeravitch July 19, 2016 //
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, one of the nation’s leading advocates for school choice, commissioned a study of Ohio’s voucher program. To what must have been their surprise and disappointment, the study concluded that students in voucher schools perform worse than students in public schools.  I was a founding member of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation–now the Fordham Institute–and I will affirm that TBF told unpleasant truths, even to its own disadvantage and the disadvantage of its causes. I left the board in 2009, after I fell away from choice, competition, and accountability as answers to the needs of America’s students.  This is a study that does TBF proud, even though it disproves its foundational belief in school choice.

US spending on prisons and jails grew three times as fast as spending on education in the last 3 decades
Business Insider by Caroline Simon Jul. 17, 2016, 7:53 PM
A new federal report reveals that state and local governments have increased spending on prisons and jails at three times the rate they've increased spending on grade-school education in the last three decades.  The analysis used data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, US Census Bureau, and other sources to compare the changes in spending between 1979-1980 and 2012-2013.  Overall, spending on public elementary and secondary school education increased by 107%, while public spending on corrections increased by 324%. 

How to measure school quality beyond test scores? State officials count the ways
Chalkbeat By Shaina Cavazos @ShainaRC PUBLISHED: July 6, 2016 - 6:07 a.m. EDT
As Indiana — and the rest of the country — moves away from measuring schools based solely on student test scores, there are a lot of options on the table.  Thirty-four options, to be exact.  That’s how many ideas Indiana officials came up with when they surveyed other states to find out how they’re planning to go beyond test scores to assess schools, which the new federal education law requires.  The list ranges from including attendance to class size to student surveys. Some of the ideas could go into practice fairly quickly, while others would require new data to be collected. Some ideas are already in play in other states, but others might not meet federal rules.  Ultimately, the state will have to choose one to use in its new A-F letter grade system, but for now, all are under consideration, state education officials say.  “Nothing is really off the table,” said state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on Tuesday. “We just have to figure out if [the measure] can comply with regulations … and what it is we want to incentivize with our schools to actually improve achievement.”  The list is extensive, and includes factors such as student attendance, chronic absenteeism, suspension and expulsion rates, teacher retention, access to technology, school climate, dropout rate, class size, and school safety, to name a few. The Indiana Department of Education currently collects data on 22 of the measures.

Donald Trump Jr. Blasts 'Soviet-Era' Schools, Tenured Teachers in RNC Speech
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 20, 2016 6:56 AM
Cleveland Although they had prime speaking slots at the Republican National Convention here Tuesday, neither New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie nor Speaker of the House Paul Ryan mentioned education in their speeches. Instead, it was Donald Trump Jr., the son of the GOP presidential nominee who devoted a part of his remarks to education, delivering a fiery denunciation of teacher tenure while giving a shout-out to school choice.  Trump Jr. blasted schools for failing American students and serving other interests.  "Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class. Now they're stalled on the ground floor," he said of schools. "They're like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers." 
Trump Jr., along with the Republican nominee's other children, have also attended private schools.  And the nominee's son said that the reason that other countries are besting the U.S. in education is that in other nations, "They let parents choose where they send their own children to school. It's called competition. It's called the free market."  Plenty of states have various forms of school choice, however. There are 21 voucher programs in 18 states, along with 16 tax-credit scholarship programs, for example, according to voucher advocates. And states like Arizona, Florida, and Nevada recently approved different kinds of education savings account programs.

Pennsylvania delegates vote at RNC, only non-Trump vote is Lancaster delegate vote for Cruz
Lancaster Online SAM JANESCH | Staff Writer July 19, 2016
CLEVELAND -- All but one of Pennsylvania’s 71 delegates at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night voted for Donald Trump to became the official presidential nominee of the party.  Seventy votes for Trump, one vote for Sen. Ted Cruz.  The Pennsylvanian who kept the vote from unanimity was none other than one of three Lancaster County delegates for the 16th Congressional District, Doug Brubaker.  Brubaker, an East Hempfield Township supervisor, committed to Cruz long before he was selected by voters as a delegate during the April 26 primary. In Cleveland this week, Brubaker has said he would stick by his principles and vote for Cruz, even though the Texas senator was not formally nominated during the official Tuesday night vote.

Mike Pence’s Record on Education Is One of Turmoil and Mixed Results
New York Times By KATE ZERNIKE JULY 19, 2016
As the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump has said little about what he would do on education.  The subject follows “The Establishment,” “Political Correctness” and “Unifying the Nation” among the issues on his campaign website. Mr. Trump says only generally that he is “a tremendous believer” in education and that he wants to end the Common Core. (“It’s an absolute disaster.”)  For his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, education has been a signature issue — and a contentious one.  As a congressman, he was one of just two dozen Republicans to vote against the No Child Left Behind act championed by President George W. Bush. Mr. Pence said he was concerned about federal intrusion into what had been a state and local issue. He has largely hewed to Republican ideas of more school choice and a smaller federal role in education. But he has also alienated some members of his own party, who said Mr. Pence paid more attention to politics than to policy.  When Mr. Pence took office in 2013, Indiana was fresh off a two-year legislative session establising school vouchers and expanding charter schools. Mr. Pence pushed harder.

At GOP Convention, Even Some Delegates Clueless on Trump's Education Stance
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Alyson Klein on July 19, 2016 5:50 PM
Cleveland Are you mystified as to where Donald Trump stands on education policy?
So are some of the people attending the convention here, where Donald Trump officially received the GOP presidential nomination Tuesday.  "I don't know what his views are on education," said Sue Sharkey, a member of the board of regents for the University of Colorado and a delegate from the Centennial State who supported Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the Republican primary. "I don't think he's really put a lot of thought into it. And I think his understanding of educational issues is probably pretty shallow."  Jonathan Hayes, a 20-year-old alternate delegate from Pennsylvania, is on the same page.  "The bombastic rherotic of Donald Trump has overtaken" any talk of education, said Hayes, who had been hoping that Florida Sen.Marco Rubio would get the GOP nomination. "I don't think he has education listed as an issue on his website. So I'm very disappointed in that."

GOP Platform Knocks Common Core and Data-Collection, Praises School Choice
Education Week Politics K12 Blog By Andrew Ujifusa on July 19, 2016 7:47 AM
Cleveland The Republican Party has released its 2016 platform on education, and while much remains unchanged from the 2012 platform, there are a few notable shifts from four years ago on the Common Core State Standards and other issues.  Here are some highlights from the new platform:  • There's a sharp rebuke of the recent guidance on transgender students' access to restrooms from the U.S. Department of Education. The platform states that Title IX's protection against discrimination on the basis of sex has been twisted by the Obama administration in an attempt "to reshape our schools—and our entire society—to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America's history and traditions." It adds that the administration's "edict to the States concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues."  Transgender rights in education weren't mentioned in the GOP's 2012 education platform, although it wasn't the hot-button issue in schools it is now.

“Poverty is having a particularly profound impact on children. More than 50 percent of students in U.S. public schools today are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches, according to the Southern Education Foundation. Although this should be deeply troubling, the prevalence of childhood poverty is hardly discussed by elected officials, and it has been virtually ignored in this year’s political debate.”
Tom On Point: Unacceptable irony
Thomas J. Gentzel
Like the tiles in a mosaic, each interesting on its own but collectively presenting a separate image, the current state of public education in America generally does not appear as a complete picture when reading individual news stories or research studies. The challenges facing public schools are many, but together they conspire to threaten this most vital institution if left unaddressed.  At the outset, we need to acknowledge that America is changing -- both in terms of its racial and ethnic composition, as well as in its income disparities. A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the percentage of schools in which most students are Hispanic and/or black as well as from low income families has risen significantly, and frequently is accompanied by fewer resources and educational opportunities.

Philly Councilwoman Gym’s Office Seeking Student Interns
Councilwoman Gym's Office July 19, 2016
We are excited to offer a few young students the opportunity to work closely within City Council of Philadelphia throughout the 2016-17 school year. This internship will expose interns to Council office operations, policy, communications, and research.  As an office, we are passionate about equity, education, child welfare, juvenile justice reform and many other issues involving children and youth in Philadelphia.  Applications should display a strong interest in equity and justice and a strong familiarity with Councilwoman Gym's story and platform. Applicants should be eager to work and receptive to constructive criticism as you learn the workings of the office. As this is a paid internship, it is expected that interns be punctual and dependable.
Here is the link to sign up and for instructions:

PSBA 2016-17 Budget Update JUL 22, 2016 • 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Please join PSBA’s Assistant Executive Director of Public Policy and Chief Lobbyist John Callahan for an in-depth dive into Pennsylvania’s budget. In this complimentary member webinar, see what is behind the numbers, get the trends and analysis for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Find out what is in the school code and policy changes to come. Participate in a question and answer period.  Register online with PSBA’s webinar host GoToWebinar at

Apply Now for EPLC's 2016-2017 PA Education Policy Fellowship Program!
Education Policy and Leadership Center
Applications are available now for the 2016-2017 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Click here for the program calendar of sessions.  With nearly 500 graduates in its first seventeen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.  Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders. Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 15-16, 2016 and continues to graduation in June 2017. Click here to read more about the Education Policy Fellowship Program, or here to see the 2016-2017 program calendar.
Applications are being accepted now.

Appointment of Voting Delegates for the October 15th PSBA Delegate Assembly Meeting
PSBA Website June 27, 2016
The governing body boards of all member school entities are entitled to appoint voting delegates to participate in the PSBA Delegate Assembly to be held on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. It is important that school boards act soon to appoint its delegate or delegates, and to notify PSBA of the appointment.
Voting members of the Delegate Assembly will:
1.     Consider and act upon proposed changes to the PSBA Bylaws.
2.     Receive reports from the PSBA president, executive director and treasurer.
3.     Receive the results of the election for officers and at-large representatives. (Voting upon candidates by school boards and electronic submission of each board’s votes will occur during the month of September 2016.)
4.     Consider proposals recommended by the PSBA Platform Committee and adopt the legislative platform for the coming year.
5.     Conduct other Association business as required or permitted in the Bylaws, policies or a duly adopted order of business.
The 2016 Delegate Assembly will meet on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the conclusion of the regularly scheduled events of the main PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference.

2016 PA Educational Leadership Summit July 24-26 State College
Summit Sponsors: PA Principals Association - PA Association of School Administrators - PA Association of Middle Level Educators - PA Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development 
The 2016 Educational Leadership Summit, co-sponsored by four leading Pennsylvania education associations, provides an excellent opportunity for school district administrative teams and instructional leaders to learn, share and plan together at a quality venue in "Happy Valley." 
Featuring Grant Lichtman, author of EdJourney: A Roadmap to the Future of Education, Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera (invited), and Dana Lightman, author of POWER Optimism: Enjoy the Life You Have... Create the Success You Want, keynote speakers, high quality breakout sessions, table talks on hot topics and district team planning and job alike sessions provides practical ideas that can be immediately reviewed and discussed at the summit before returning back to your district.   Register and pay by April 30, 2016 for the discounted "early bird" registration rate:

PA Supreme Court sets Sept. 13 argument date for fair education funding lawsuit in Philly
Thorough and Efficient Blog JUNE 16, 2016 BARBGRIMALDI LEAVE A COMMENT

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